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Arctic Indigenous Peoples: Literature Connection: The Very Last First Time by J

Activity Overview

There are many books related to Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic and Subarctic that can help students better visualize and understand the people, their history, and their present. Some short picture books can be used as a whole class read-alouds, where other longer books can be used as longer novel studies. In this activity, students will create a plot summary of the book using visuals and descriptions.

The story used in this example is

Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews and Illustrated by Ian Wallace. Perfect for ages 5 - 10, it is about a young girl named Eva and her Canadian Inuit community. Eva is learning about the daring and adventurous activity of gathering mussels from a dark cave on the seafloor when the tide goes out.

Here are some examples of literature that relate to the Indigenous People of the Arctic and Subarctic:

Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse and Illustrated by Barbara Lavallee. Great for ages 3 - 5, it is a sweet story about a child asking how much she is loved by her Inuit mama.

My Arctic 1,2,3 by Michael Kusugak is a colorful picture book for grades K-3 that describes the different animals and resources in the Arctic. Numbers are written in both English and Inuktitut. It includes a special section at the end that details traditions of the Inuit people.

Marooned In The Arctic: The True Story of Ada Blackjack, the "Female Robinson Crusoe" by Peggy Caravantes is great for middle grades. It is the incredible true story of Ada Blackjack, an Inuit woman who agrees to accompany British explorers to Wrangel Island in northern Siberia in 1921 because she is trying to earn money for her son who is ill. Because of the harrowing conditions, the men abandon the trip or die and Blackjack is stranded for nearly two years surviving by her wits and courage alone.

Kamik's First Sled by Matilda Sulurayok, an Inuit elder from Nunavut, Canada, is the story based on her experiences rearing her beloved dogs to be strong and fast sled dogs that can travel across the tundra.

Only in My Hometown: Kisimi Taimaippatut Angirrarijarani by Angnakuluk and Ippiksaut Friesen (Sisters from an Inuit community in Nunavut, Canada) is the story about what it is like to grow up in an Inuit community in Nunavut from the sisters experiences, beautifully describing the Inuit language and culture.

Fishing With Grandma by Susan Avingaq, an Inuit from the Igloolik area in Nunavut, Canada, is the adventurous story of a grandmother taking her two grandchildren ice fishing using traditional Inuit methods to catch Arctic char.

When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton is the story of Olemaun, an 8 year old growing up with her Inuit family in the arctic. She is sent to a residential school at the age of 8 where she is excited to learn to read. However, much of her time is spent doing manual labor. She strives to maintain her identity and attachment to her culture despite the school’s determination to break her spirit. It is based on the true experiences of author Margaret Pokiak-Fenton.

Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton is the sequel to When I was Eight and describes Olemaun’s return home to her Inuit family after an extended period of time at the residential school. She is excited to return to her village but finds that she has forgotten so much of her traditions and language and finds it a struggle to belong in either world. Both books are a moving and inspiring testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 4-5

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative Arcs

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Summarize the story in a 3-5 cell storyboard describing the main events in the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

Student Instructions:

  1. Read the story.
  2. Click "Start Assignment".
  3. Create a 3-5 cell storyboard with descriptions and illustrations showing the sequence of major events in the story.
  4. Save and submit your storyboard.



(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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